What Eternal Church values

1) Centrality of Christ
The Gospel is the “good news” that God has chosen to not give sinful humanity what we deserve, but has provided a way to redeem fallen creation through the life and work of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the central message of the entire Bible, and Jesus is the center of the Gospel. The Bible can only be rightly understood as it is interpreted through the Son who was and is the Word (Luke 24:27). Each life can only be rightly understood as it is interpreted through the Bible. Therefore, we believe that this Gospel message of hope for the world and grace for the sinner is not merely a doctrine of truth, but the very power of God which grows, transforms and reshapes everything — hearts, identities, relationships and practices in every area of private and public life, and therefore, the possibility to transform entire societies. He is central because everything “in Him” will last, even all that looks weak and fleeting, and everything outside of Him will perish, no matter how good or right it seems to the world.
2) Transformed Lives
The Gospel is both the diving board and the pool in which we swim as a local church. It is common to think of the Gospel as a way to bring unbelievers into the church, after which they grow through obedience to Christian principles. But at Eternal we believe that the Gospel is the primary way a believer grows into Christ- likeness. It is in the believing, rejoicing, remembering, understanding and practicing of the Gospel more deeply that we have hope to overcome our flaws and produce Holy Spirit “fruit.” All our sins that distance us from God are rooted in alternative “saviors” that give us hope outside of God Himself. Mere discipline or commitment to church practices will not rid us of these deep-seated sins. The Gospel must change us from the inside-out, both once and unceasingly. Therefore, the life of the believer is one of continual repentance and utter sustenance upon the provision of Jesus Christ. Bringing the Gospel to bear on life “as it is,” therefore, is the essence of what we do at Eternal in our preaching, pastoral and elder care, counseling and education (Galatians 2:14-21). We do not come into the Kingdom to “get to work" in earning our salvation, but to work with Him in the application of the Gospel to the deepest areas of our sin nature.
3) Covenant Community
Because the Gospel changes our heart, conduct and identities, it makes us into people who can manage far more transparent, honest, service-based and loving relationships. The Gospel creates a community that is counter to culture, so that it can be a witness to something greater than itself in that cultural setting. In a post- modern, capitalistic Western society people value radical individual freedom and consumerism. These values are not always evil, except when they prevent us from making selfless, communal covenants in the institutions that God has established for our good and growth, namely marriage and the church. Therefore we enter into covenants within these institutions, not because they are always safe, or easy, but because they are right. In them the world sees how Gospel-changed hearts truly behave; where we show our humility and boldness; where we are quick to repent, forgive and reconcile; where we submit with respect to authority that does not otherwise contradict God’s principles; where authority listens, serves and loves those in submission; and where we constantly reveal the ability in Christ to live in unity and peace while maintaining a diversity of nonessential theological and doctrinal positions. Jesus’ work of salvation was not so that we can receive something individually from Him to fulfill us personally, but so that we might respond to Christ’s covenant with us, purchased and sealed through His life, death and resurrection, and do likewise in covenant with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in Biblical marriage and in a local church, so that the world can see Him
(John 13:34-35).
4) Biblical Prayer
A church should be characterized by prayer. Members of a church pray faithfully, both privately and corporately. In their prayers they worship God, confess sins, thank God for His love and care, intercede for others, seek God’s initiatives, and ask for help in times of need. A church prays fervently and frequently and learns to seek God and His ways above all things on earth. Prayer marks the church as a spiritual institution, and undergirds every single thing the church seeks to do and be. And when we pray for that which can only be accomplished by the power of God, we may experience answers which can only be explained by the presence of, and for the glory of God. The world must say of Eternal what early non-believers said of the early church — “they devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
5) Preeminent Worship
Worship is preeminent in the life of believers because we are never so close to touching the very fabric of heaven than when we worship. We are never so aligned with God than when we mimic and practice the activities eternally on display at the throne of God since before the beginning of time. Worship is the obedient, compelling action motivated by the beauty of God Himself. Worship is the most proper response of all creation ascribing all honor, glory and worth to their Creator- God, precisely because He is worthy, and delightfully so. A church worships because it must, not only because His great faithfulness compels us, but because through our worship we call all nations and peoples to experience and acknowledge the one, true and holy God, who deserves all glory from all creation. A church will provide corporate worship opportunities for her people to come together, to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, to pray and fast, to confess and encourage, to prioritize spiritual direction through biblical revelation, to commune at the Lord’s Table, and to commission God’s people for works of service. Every facet of Eternal’s worship aims to glorify God and to edify His chosen people (Colossians 3:14-17). None of it exists to entertain a dying world.
6) Cultural Renewal and Discord
When Jesus called His people to be salt and light to the world at large, it meant that believers would be both the preservatives of a society in constant decay, and the revolutionaries that challenge the systems and institutions that harm God’s image- bearers. The Gospel has primary implications for our private lives, but then must have great affect on our public lives, including what professions we pursue, and why, and the motivations that drive our vocational work. Any particular culture is the result of core beliefs about the meaning of life, right and wrong, the nature of the human dilemma, and the vision of and the proposed solutions for a “better life.” All of these get fleshed-out, expressed and produced through the professions and habits of people. When individual Christians are transformed by the Gospel, they accomplish their work with new purposes and motivations, and with a different set of core beliefs, with affections for a new Kingdom. And wherever these Christians are — in business, law, medical professions, the arts, government and service industries, it will change the culture through both renewal and discord. The Gospel gives every believer a new worldview and new affections, based on new ideas about
the human condition, new inner motives and power, new conceptions and guidelines for work, and a new ability to be both submissive and uncompromising in their places of work. The church accomplishes this goal of cultural transformation by creating a people who understand who they are to be, wherever they already are. We do not go to church, we become the church in our world.
7) Mission Focus
The Bible is the divinely revealed written record of the mission of God to redeem fallen creation back to Himself. When we realize that, we begin to understand that being a Christian means more than personal salvation, but to join with God as partakers and participants in His mission. Therefore the world is not a place to survive until we escape someday, but a strategic place where we participate in God’s plan to end evil and redeem His people back unto Himself. The church, as God’s redeemed people, is Plan “A” to bring the life-saving Gospel to a lost world. God has organized the church to not only share the Gospel and make disciples locally, but to be actively involved in taking the Gospel to the nations. “Mission” is not something for a select few to involve themselves in, for we all must pray, give and go right where we live, and wherever God leads for the spread of God’s praise and glory among all the peoples of the world. As every covenant member walks in the Spirit and in obedience with God, He may lead some to go short-term, mid-term and long-term to other places in the world where the Gospel has not been fully realized or preached. We at Eternal will joyfully commission her members to spread the Gospel wherever they are, and wherever they go, both in our local setting and to places abroad. Someday every nation, tribe and tongue will gather around God’s throne and sing His praise for His salvation. This is the mission for which Jesus died, and therefore the aim of all who become the church and covenant with Eternal (Acts 1:8).
8) Acting Justly
The Gospel challenges and humbles people with means and power, showing them that they are no better than anyone else before God. It also lifts up the weak and broken, giving them confidence and identity in Christ. The church believes that all humans are image-bearers of God, and therefore inherently worthy of equal dignity before that God. The world has always relied on evil wisdom that separates those who have more from those who have less and ascribes more value to the former. Because unredeemed people live and think in these ways, they also create systems and institutions that exacerbate those values and increase those areas of inequality. God knew this would be an issue, and therefore created a covenant people to combat those systems. We do not employ the word “social” justice at Eternal because justice with an adjective is often justice with an agenda. Doing justice in the church means that we are generous with our resources and time as we meet the basic and immediate needs of our community. Justice means that we pursue and adopt unwanted children, and take care of our elderly — because justice in the church means being advocates for people with less social and economic power. We are committed to creating systems in the church that reflect and proclaim the fair and glorious justice of a God who shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11). We believe that the worldly systems are broken because the humans who created them are broken and unredeemed. Although our primary focus is to bring people to a saving trust in Jesus Christ, so that the systems can be healed, we do not wait to admit that social systems are often not fair, that God calls us to speak and act, and that His justice is not based on the personal virtues of those in need (Matthew 25:31-46).
9) Loving Mercy
When the prophet Micah calls God’s people to love “mercy” he is asking us to prioritize and assimilate the Hebrew word hesed (Micah 6:8). This word is often translated in the Bible as God’s special and steadfast love for His people. It is a unique covenantal faithfulness that God has for His people. It is His “for better and for worse” promise spoken and displayed over His people. When God calls us to “love mercy," He is calling us to remember a covenant built upon complete and utter grace. It is a covenant by Him and through Him. It is a covenant in which He keeps both ends of the requirements. If we try to act justly without loving mercy, then we will be pointing fingers at the evil “out there” without seeing the evil that lies within. We don’t want to make enemies of the very people and systems that God seeks to redeem. The word hesed draws our attention to the only One who has been faithful in covenant. Justice is trying to make the world as it should be, but it must be pursued by a people who know that they are not as they should be, and yet God remains faithful to them, even unto His own death. Christians know that a truly equitable system would condemn all mankind to eternal damnation. Loving faithfulness reminds us that instead of condemning us in our hostility, God held onto us even while we were sinners, until we could respond to His grace. We must behave this way toward others. Without a crucial understanding of our love for mercy all of our passion and acts of justice will be retributive instead of restorative.
10) Walking Humbly
James tells us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift us up (James 4:10). When we attempt to walk humbly before God, it puts Him in direct competition with a fierce and unrelenting enemy: our own hearts. But without humility we cannot respond to our need for salvation. Without humility we will not be able to exist and grow in the Kingdom of God. Humility is not seeing how low we are as humans, humility is simply seeing who He rightly is, but in so doing we wonder “what is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4) Humility reminds us that He is the center of the world and not our own passions, dreams and ambitions. Humility allows us to challenge systems courageously, to speak out against evil, while loving the people in them with clear eyes, for “once we were....” Humility allows us to enter into covenants faithfully and hopefully. Humility gives us the power to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Humility allows those in submission to respect their authorities, and humility allows those same authorities to listen and be corrected. Humility allows us to be wrong without feeling defeated, for we are not saved through our intellect or competency. Humility allows for transformation that can only come through deep repentance. Since God “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6), it also means that He will oppose or bless Eternal according to our ability to humbly submit to Him. At Eternal we seek to humble the proud with the Word of God, for it is only when we see His greatness, and our transitory and evil nature in comparison, do we have any hope of attaining righteousness and eternal significance.

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